Beyond pivoting to deliveries, Gokada has revealed its renewed interest in their water transport business, GBoat.
Speaking with Technext, the startup’s CEO, Fahim Saleh, acknowledges that this is the perfect timing to ‘test’ the service as it wants to launch very soon.
“This is actually perfect timing,” the CEO told TechNext quite cheerfully. “We have two boats now that came from China.”
A bit of history
The service was initially launched last year, few months earlier than the 2020 it had scheduled for. The service was rolled out in partnership with the prominent private boat operator, Lagos Boats.
The new development came about a month after the startup’s leadership changed hands and it secured a new $5.3 million in funding from Rise Capital. This was a sign of ambition by the new administration.
As at launch, GBoat operated out of three main jetties; The Five Cowries Terminal at LASWA yard Falomo in Ikoyi; the Kingfisher Waterfront Jetty at Wole Olateju in Lekki; and the Paradise Jetty at Walter Carrington in Victoria Island – all which were on the island.
However, few months after that initial launch, nothing was heard of the service again.
But with the ban, Gokada seems to be turning back to Gboat together with its new delivery arm to keep in operation.
“We have two (2) boats now that came from China and we will be testing the service soon,” Saleh said.
The CEO also plans to rapidly increase the fleet as soon as operations kick off fully.
Unlike the initial launch and test run when the service operated only off the Island, Saleh notes that this time, GBoat will service both the Island and Mainland parts of Lagos.
“Rides will definitely be Island to mainland routes,” Saleh said.
This will see GBoat rival ride-hailing startup, Uber as well as other traditional players – who have long operated in the space, in the waters.
Water Transportation in Lagos
Following the restriction imposed by the Lagos State Government on bike-hailing startups, water transportation remains a viable play for new entrants or existing players in the mobility space in Lagos.
With about 25% of the entire state made up of water bodies, water transportation has always been a serviceable space. However that sector has been grossly underutilised due for various reasons, like safety of boats and infrastructure.
But recently, the Lagos State government has invested more focus towards the space, putting security facilities and infrastructures in place.
And it’s nice to see that Gokada wants to take advantage of these infrastructure and focus some of its business in that space.